Thursday, May 31, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 22

On the bridge of the Tiger of Maribu, Duke Far stood next to the stellar navigation station when an alert sounded.

"Your Grace," a crewman said, "the scout's in position at the suspect location."

"Main screen." Far said, and the video feed from the scout appeared on the big screen. In real time, the scout showed the asteroid pirate base, and its activity resembled that of a panicked wasp hive. Not one of the vessels leaving the base was a warship. Instead, Far witnessed a bunch of pirates in unarmed mechs towing away the stolen container units, apparently leading to a point on the edge of the solar system- right where it opens to deep space.

"Scout, have any warships or mecha come or gone?" Far said, following a hunch.

"None, Your Grace." the scout said, "This is all that's been going on since the base lit up a few moments ago. Just prior to that a burst signal terminated here. Your Grace, this isn't a muster for battle; these pirates are abandoning their base of operations."

Far looked over at his Communications Officer, who nodded affirmatively in anticipation of the question. "Scout, send the trajectory of the burst signal back here. Stay on station, observe, and if detected flee."

"Yes, Your Grace." the scout said, and moments later the requested data appeared. The Communications Officer superimposed the data on a map of the system, revealing a point on the edge of Garmil's Gate's atmosphere.

"General Quarters!" Far said, and the battle lighting came on as the alert klaxons sounded. "Helm, intercept that ascending ship."

The Tiger of Maribu's engines flared to life once more, turning the battleship about and heading away from Gatewatch on an intercept course. As the battleship raced to intercept Redalen's Revenge, the mech squadron aboard ship scrambled and stood ready to launch upon contact.

"Missiles at the ready." Far said, anticipating what's to come, and soon the map updated with positive sensor contact.


A salvo of missiles fired their engines and flew from their tubes, clearing the battleship before turning and flying towards their target. Immmediately thereafter the mech squadron launched, taking up their formation ahead of the Maribu. The ship's main guns now powered up, anticipating closure to combat ranges presently.

"Enemy missiles inbound!" a crewman said, "Enemy secondary signals confirmed. Tiger Leader has visual confirmation of enemy mecha and their mothership."

"On screen."

Redalen's Revenge appeared on the main screen, starboard side in profile, racing as fast as it can go for the edge of the system.

"Missiles intercepted and destroyed."

"All ahead full! Time for the Tiger to pounce!"

The mech squadrons broke formation and engaged, turning quickly into a series of dogfights, as the Tiger closed on the Revenge

"We've reached gunnery range, Your Grace!"


The Tiger's forward turrets opened fire, alternating fire to maintain a steady assault of three-barrel barrages. The first volley scored a glancing blow and coruscated brilliantly off Revenge's shields, but the second hit square on the pirate ship's starboard side. The hit overloaded the shields, bored a hole in the armor and into the hull. Some hapless pirates not incinerated by the shot itself got sucked out into space during decompression before the bulkheads slammed down and sealed off the breach.

Revenge returned fire, tracking the Maribu and firing a barrage from its own turrets. One missed entirely, but two more hit and stressed the shielding on the ship's fore to its limit. A fourth went just high and skated off the shielding over the dorsal hull.

"Now if Roland can just join the battle." Far said, "We can finish Dashing Jack for good."

Friday, May 25, 2018

Vox Day's Darkstream: Why The Comics Industry Is Collapsing In 2018

The business of comic books is the topic of Vox Day's Darkstream tonight. (No embeds, alas.) It's not encouraging for DC or Marvel or anyone who wants to play in their sandbox.

He puts the blame on Diamond, the monopoly distributor, as the source of the woes afflicting retailers. Marvel and DC producing SJW trash only makes an existing problem worse, and the bad effects accelerate in development. Addressing the distribution issue is vital to having a comics business going forward, and that's what Vox Day is on about here. Worth the listen; he's actually tackling the problem as it is, has a solution, and is making it happen. This matters because DC and Marvel will use Diamond to shut out competition such as Jawbreakers, as all three of them need each other to keep their racket going.

The post-80s crash comic book store business model is on its way out, and breaking Diamond's monopoly on comics is vital to that model. Break the monopoly, break the model, and save the comic book scene for future generations to enjoy. You need to keep an eye on this, even if you're not wanting to work in comics, because something you do make get a comic adaptation (the usual stepping stone to a film or TV adaptation) and that means it's in your business interest as a writer to watch media where your work may well show up.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 21

The Baden-Powell broke through Garmil's Gate's atmosphere once more, descending well below the clouds to answer the distress call from the noblewomen on retreat.

"The signal's still transmitting, Sir Ramsey." Sibley said, "I expect that as long as the women can keep the raiders out of their secured room, we can home in on that."

"Creton!" Ramsey said, speaking into his microphone, "On the guns, now!"

"Expecting a hostile reception are we?" Sibley said, and in response two blips came on the sensors coming from the noblewomen's location. "Contacts. Look like the escorts for our raiding party."

"Spin up the guns." Ramsay said, "Take them quickly, boy. We don't have time to waste."

Ramsey saw the guns powering up on his console. "Aye, my lord!" Creton said, his enthusiasm plain, "Standing by!"

"Fire when ready." Ramsey said, "Just make certain that you hit."

The turret rotated around the ship's axis, and the cannons pointed down slightly in the direction of their descent. Creton sat at the controls, fixed on the target reticle, as he saw the lead mech in the pirate element come into range. He marked the wingman's position behind the leader, and in a smooth motion shifted his aim to the trailing wingman. The boy pressed the trigger, and the blaster cannons threw forth a burst of hot plasma bolts downrange.

The leader laughed, thinking that the volley was meant for him, only to hear his wingman cry out a moment before dying as the mech's powerplant exploded. Before the leader got his wits about him, Creton sent a second volley. The bolts slammed into his mech's torso, first burning out the armor and then boring through the cockpit--and him--to the same result. Neither go so much as a ranging shot off.

"Scope's clear, my lord." Sibley said, "We're clear to land."

"No time, Sibley." Ramsey said, "Take the con. I'm dropping down, so I want you and Creton hovering overhead just in case."

"Understood, my lord." Sibley said as he changed seats, "Boy, take the co-pilot's chair."

Creton handed Ramsey the knight's baton, and moments later the ventral hatch opened. Ramsey dropped out of his ship, and free-fell the last half-mile or so to the target while the Baden-Powell veered off slightly. It was a good precaution, because now some ground-to-air missile launched from the surface. Ramsey spread his arms and legs wide, and a thin plasma-like energy flashed up to form a gliding suit out of his armor. The ship drew off and shot down the missiles, and then moved forward in case of more ground fire, which did come as both man and machine came within visual range of the wilderness retreat.

"Sibley!" Ramsey said, "Clear a path!"

Creton used the ship's guns to blow apart the makeshift anti-air gun the pirates put up, and then blew up the shuttle they meant to escape with. Those explosions kept the pirates' attention away from Ramsey until it was too late, and the Paladin glided down from above, swooping down upon them like a mighty eagle. In one smooth motion he landed on one pirate, kneeing the fool in the back and cracking the villain's head open upon the pavement, rolled forward, and shot a second dead with his pistol. A third came at him with a club as Ramsey got to his feat, only to be pushed off his line and shot down by Ramsey.

A forth cried out an alert before being shot dead in turn, and Ramsey knew that violence of action now was his only option. He put his pistol in his off-hand, drew his beam sword, and rushed into the retreat. Two came for him from around a corner; Ramsey ran one of them through, used him as a shield against the other and then shot the second down. They came again and again in twos and threes, until he cut down or shot dead a score in total. The last, standing before the armored door to the secured room, fell on his sword than face his doom like a man.

"I am Lord Roland of the Solar Guard." Ramsey said, putting forth his arms before the camera and showing his face, "The raiders are gone. You may come out now."

Moments a dozen nobles and their attendants emerged from the cramped room, taking their turns blessing him and kissing him, before their hostess and leader emerged. Neither eldest nor youngest, but clearly the highest in station by her bearing. She stood up to Ramsey's chest, a woman in the full bloom of youthful beauty, with straight red hair to her shoulders and eyes blue like a clear sky- a visage so striking that Ramsey paused a moment.

"We are grateful for your valor, Lord Roland." she said, "My father will hear of this for certain."

Ramsey bowed, affecting a courtly manner. "The loss of she whom is heralded as God's songbird would be a terrible injury to Christendom, Countess Robin. However, time is short and I must insist upon haste in escaping. Their master lingers nearby."

Countess Robin nodded. "Agreed. Bring forth your ship, Lord Roland. We are many, but we shall not saddle you for long."

Ramsey keyed into his comlink. "Sibley, bring the ship down and have Creton ready to assist. Tell Gatewatch to expect us presently."

Friday, May 18, 2018

PulpRev Celebrates Its Anniversary

My companions over at PulpRev have a big announcement to make on the mark of PulpRev's anniversary.

More ways for more people to make useful contributions to the mission of the Pulp Revolution is a good thing. We really do need to Regress Harder, and more ways to communicate is a good thing to do; the Discord server remains active on a daily basis, but Discord itself has come out as being SJW-amenable so we should have alternatives and an anon-by-default imageboard (ala the chans) is just the sort of thing we need as backup.

So I am all for PulpRiot, and I hope this takes off soon. It just launched, so of course it's going to be less than bare bones in terms of content; that's your cue--especially if you avoided being seen with us for some reason or another--to come join the masked ball that is required on an imageboard. You're anonymous; what matters is what you say, not who you are, so (like the chans) respect that and come play with us.

The other things talked about--such as the pulp library--should be discussed and acted upon the months to come along with other things mentioned. Once more, with feeling: come join us. We're Making Science Fiction Great Again.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 20

Dashing Jack and his man Gori walked alongside the sensory deprivation tank enclosing the prize he came to Garmil's Gate for: the Watcher Azazel. Surrounded by men carefully controlling the transport of the tank, Jack knew he should feel at ease but was not- a tell that Gori noticed.

"Captain, wouldn't have been easier to wake up our prize and let him walk out under his own power?"

"Gori, you're not a well-read man, are you?" Jack said, "There's a very good reason to keep him under and present him to Red Eyes as he is, and that reason is because the odds of something going catastrophically wrong--killing us, or worse--in the process drop like a stone when the one most capable of doing so remains incapacitated."

"You talk like this is a weapon, Captain."

"Worse, Gori. He's the maker of weapons. This angel is a living, breathing, weapons factory. As as I know too well that rewards are useless if you're dead, I'll take the chance of displeasing Red Eyes over the certainty of reward for delivering what he wants into his hands whole, safe, and sound."

They entered the great lift and ascended to the dock.

"It's also faster to do it this way. No harder than moving a warhead this way, and we've stolen plenty of those recently haven't we? As time is not our ally-"

Gori made an obscene thrusting gesture. "The sooner we're back in port making our way through the pillow dens at Ragdoll Randy's!"

"Focus, Gori." Jack said, snapping his fingers, "You know damn well that Fang won't occupy his betters for much longer, and need I remind you what happens next?"

"They come for us."

"And how long do you think it will take for them to conclude that we are here, and come to intercept us?"

Before Gori could answer, the lift stopped and the doors opened. At that moment, Jack got a call from the ship. "Captain, the Tiger of Maribu is here."

Jack hustled out of the way of his man. "Get that aboard and secured at once!"

Gori, anticipating his master's next command, gave it: "All hands, return to the ship. We are leaving! Any man not on board in 10 minutes will be left behind."

"Helm, prepare for takeoff." Jack ordered, "Squadron, get outside and run a combat patrol pattern. I won't be caught by surprise."

Gori looked at Jack, and the pirate captain sighed. "Gori, our team at the retreat is on standby, right?"

"Aye, captain. Shall I give the order?"

"Yes, but make this clear: they must be unspoiled, Gori! I'll unman them bare-handed if they dare disobey! We need them unspoiled!"

Gori gave that order over the coms, using a secure channel. Then he and Jack hurried back aboard Redalen's Revenge with the rest of the away party. As the engines spun up, and the crew ensured that their cargo got locked down, Jack took his seat on the bridge.


"The Tiger of Maribu and Gatewatch opened fire upon the Opulent Dragon. Captain, the Dragon won't last long."

"Nether will we if we don't get going. Lift off as soon as we're able, Helm."

Redalen's Revenge lifted off the prison's dock and backed out slowly, with Jack watching the scene in orbit all the while. Gori kept an eye on the mech squadron on patrol, and all aboard the pirate battleship felt a keen tension. First the Paladin, now Duke Far, and his obstacles keeping them at bay quickly crumbling to dust. The sway team attacking the noblewomen on retreat are the last chance he has to buy time and distance, and he knows it.

"Status on the retreat, Gori?"

"Underway, Captain. They'll report back when they're ready for pickup."

Jack nodded his acknowledgement, but both he and Gori knew not to expect that call. Those men are already dead.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Galactic Christendom Video Pitch

Recently I saw a post on Twitter that went, roughly, "Post three pics that sell your story." Fuck it, videos instead.

Just add DEUS VULT and lightsabers and you get Galactic Christendom.

Sure, there's substance behind the scenes to ensure that it all holds up, but there's your elevator pitch. It's what I use when I think I'm losing focus, because if I can nail that mood then I'm going to entertain the audience and that's what I have to do. This sets the expectations that I need to fulfill, and thereby allows me to identify and filter out what doesn't belong (such as nihilism and the degeneracy it brings). You don't get much more simple than that, in terms of useful writer tools.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 19

The Opulent Dragon and the Tiger of Maribu began firing upon each other, and with the former battleship unable to manuever the fight escalated into a merciless slugfest between the ships' main cannons. Meanwhile, both ships sortied their mech squadrons, which immediately rushed to engage each other. Gatewatch joined the fray, launch its mech squadrons and firing upon the Dragon in support of the Maribu.

The relentless pummeling by naval artillery shook the interior more and more severely, making the fighting inside become perilous beyond expectation. Ramsey, Far, and Far's bodyguard cut a bloody swath through Fang's loyal crew as they race for the Flight Deck, arriving just as they see Fang attempt to forcibly board Duke Far's shuttle only to see the pilot and co-pilot resist them.

Far keyed into a comlink. "Pilot! This is your Duke. We are approaching your position. Stand ready for the men and I to board."

"Acknowledged, Your Grace."

With a nod, Far and Ramsey rushed out of cover to attack Fang on the flank. The shuttle kept the traitor pinned down, and that left Fang open. The first few shots fired at the traitor's position cut down several of his men, dropping them to the deck, before Fang and the remainder shifted their position as best they could to cover against both threats. With Fang and Ramsey in the lead, their beam swords blazing, they quickly closed the gap and fell upon Lord Fang two on one- two of the best swordsmen in the galaxy against one cunning criminal nobleman.

Fang knew he couldn't win this encounter. Immediately on the back foot, he tried to disengage again and again, only for one or the other to thwart the gambit. Beyond the duo delivering his doom, he saw the shuttle admit Far's men. A well of resentment and frustration burst forth, unmanning Lord Fang and prompting him to lash out at Duke Far with a wordless howl of rage. Unmoved, Far stepped off Fang's line and struck. The first removed the condemned man's arm. The second removed his head.

Ramsey extinguished his sword. "I'll have Sibley pick me up."

"They'll fight to the last, but none shall survive." Far said, "Once we're both away, let us discuss the matter of Fang's former ally."

"Agreed." Ramsey said, "A temporary parting, Your Grace."

"Yes, Lord Roland." Far said as he shook Ramsey's hand, "Until later then."

Ramsey nodded, and Far took his leave. Boarding the shuttle, Far escaped the Dragon without further incident. A short time later, the Baden-Powell entered and hovered while Ramsey boarded. Once aboard and underway, Ramsey took his place in the pilot's chair and watched on the main screen as the combined fire of Gatewatch and the Tiger of Maribu finished their pummeling of the Opulent Dragon, with a final volley hitting the power plant and provoking a most violent explosion.

"May God have mercy on their souls." Ramsey said as the Baden-Powell approached the Maribu.

Friday, May 4, 2018

World-Building: The Importance of Memory to Culture & Civilization

A world-building note for today: "Ancient History" can be as recent as five years ago.

I'm talking about living memory, the sort of commonly-held information in a generational cohort of a community people take for granted. For you who routinely write in cultures other than your own, or set at times other than your epoch, you've already gotten a far larger body of such knowledge set off with caveats of some sort so it's not hard to see how common knowledge changes over time.

Because that knowledge resides in the living as an emergent phenomenon (which institutions are meant to emulate by storing such lore somehow via artifice), it is fragile as glass. Have you ever seen people emerge from cults who grew up in them, and then had to unlearn what they learned in the cult? This is the same sort of thing; your setting's "ancient knowledge" is only what your culture keeps alive, by whatever means.

A lot of institutions arise out of the need to store, transmit, and retain fidelity of information over a generational basis. A lot of plot twists in myth and literature revolve around recovering, restoring, transmitting, such information- including the subversion of expectation that what those institutions tell you as a child is true.

Post-apocalypse scenarios in particular have to engage in this at some level to make the story hold up under the weight of the narrative demands put to it, as you're having to deal with things like "How do they make gasoline?" and "Where are they getting the means to do basic field medicine?"- both of which is Ancient History in such a scenario, even if the apocalypse happened just recently enough for an infant to age into someone able to do useful labor (which isn't "be an adult" necessarily).

And that isn't absolute; The Last of Us is an apocalypse scenario where you can see how recent the demarcation line actually is between "Ancient History" and "Common Knowledge", with Ellie being the one severed from the past despite being alive at the end of Civilization.

So, for all you dealing in situations far in the future, or the past, a secret world with its secret history (e.g. as posited by the Ancient Aliens crowd), or a secondary world with its own sense of history, keep in mind that what is commonly believed to be true--common knowledge and Ancient History alike--is shaped by the presence or lack of the institutions that act as a culture's external memory (and individuals capable of accessing and retrieving that information).

A culture with no archives, no preservers, no myth-keepers, no ritual retellings of the culture's core stories explaining itself to itself, no art or architecture, or religion is a culture with no memory beyond what those alive possesses and shares. A culture that is among such, but has no one able to get what information such institutions possess and pass it on to those now alive, is a culture that is on the decline and swiftly facing degradation into primitive savagery.

And yes, you'll see some of this applied in my Galactic Christendom tales (or the post-apocalyptic Wars of the Damned that precedes that era).

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 18

Duke Far, leader of House Far, stood on the bridge of the Opulent Dragon with a dejected Lord Fang kneeling before him while Ramsey stood just behind the disgraced nobleman.

"Your guilt is plain." Far said, "And your confession makes moot any question of evidence. You have betrayed your lord and your God. You know the penalties for treason."

Fang bowed obsequeously, touching his forehead to the floor in the expected manner. "I do."

"Then you know what to do." Far said, and he snapped his fingers. A man of his retinue stepped forward with an ornate box. Fang returned to his kneeling position and looked on, expecting the ritual sword from his quarters, but he couldn't see it- Far stood in the way.

"Lord Roland will guarantee things should you fail this one final task."

"Of course." Fang said, a hint of nerves creeping into his voice.

Fang turned about and threw the expected sword at Fang's feet. Fang's mask of calm fell away as he saw that the sword was a wooden training sword.

"Go on, we're waiting." Far said, sternly. Ramsey saw Far's way of dealing with double-talking tricksters.

"Where's my sword?" Far said, concerned.

"His Grace the Duke saw that your sword had broken, so he sent it away with the rest of your effects." Ramsey said, "I had my page's training sword brought in for this affair due to a lack of viable alternatives."

"It's made of wood!"

"Fang, you know that the truly determined will fall upon a sword of reeds, much less wood of this timber." Far said, and now his face showed that he saw that Fang had truly trapped himself.

Fang sighed, and reluctantly he made the ritual motion to pick up the sword. In that motion, his hands crossed at the wrists, and that motion did not go unnoticed. Fang opened his jacket, as expected, to bear his chest and abdomen and made ready to fall on that wooden sword.

The lights went out as he began that thrust. No sooner did they flicker than Ramsey drew his beam sword and slashed down at Fang, but the blow missed. Far also drew his sword, guessing Fang's move, but struck only the trainer. A hatch in the ceiling popped open, and a third beam sword lit up the room, revealing Fang's location. Yet before the Paladin and the Duke could take Fang two-on-one, the doors opened and Fang's men fired into the bridge forcing them and Far's men to take cover.

Fang ran around his enemies and escaped the bridge, once more leaving them in darkness. "Get the emergency lights on!" Far said.

"You're not getting off my ship as easily as you got on." Fang said over the intercom, "I've sealed and locked out the main bridge, and life support is soon to follow. Cut your way out and you'll be swarmed by my men until you're dead. Stay put and suffocate while you freeze solid. Take your pick, my lords."

Ramsey keyed into his comlink. "Sibley"

"Aye my lord." Sibley said, "I knew he'd pull something like this."

"Cripple the ship." Ramsey said, "Then patch His Grace through to the Marabu."

By now Far had a few of his men cutting down the door with beam swords while the rest stood ready with blaster pistols to face what lay on the other side. They felt, then heard, an explosion before Sibley got back on the line.

"That did it." Sibley said, "And you're patched in, Your Grace."

"Captain, this is the Duke. Prepare to repel boarders."

The Maribu's captain answered. "Yes, Your Grace. Proceeding as planned."

"As planned?" Ramsey said.

"You just turned his battleship into a space station, Lord Roland. Did you expect him to escape by stealing away with his personal mech?"

Ramsey sighed. "I did."

Now more explosions rocked the ship. "Not until his pride is soothed, and that means making you and I look weak and stupid."

The door fell to the floor, and Far's men threw smoke grenades into the hall beyond. Without a word, both noblemen followed the men into the corridor. Now in the lead, they headed for the Flight Deck- and Fang.